Title: Eucalyptus: Text paperback edition
Author: BAIL MURRAY
Imprint: TEXT PUBLISHERS
Publishing status: Active
Miles Franklin 1999 Winner
You could say that in terms of the characteristic landscape of Australian writing, Murray Bail’s Eucalyptus is about ‘the knowledge’. That is its amusing working conceit; but much more seriously it is about how one acquires the knowledge. In his characteristically elegant and deceptively sparse manner, Bail demonstrates the importance of narratives, of story telling, as a way of acquiring and learning about one’s self and one’s place. It reconstitutes traditional romance conventions (the father setting an impossible task for those who would win the hand of his daughter) and rewrites them for Australia, so that it is simultaneously local and universal in its orientation. And the point of the novel lies not in the young man’s success but in what the daughter learns. This is a masculine construct of femininity, no doubt; but then antipodean courtship has ever been more stringybark than lemon-scented gum.